Last weekend I completed the London Marathon in a time of 4 hours 56 minutes. "So ? Lots of people can run a marathon in a quicker time." I hear you say, and you would be right.
However this is my story on how I got to London. I am a 44-year-old shift worker with three young kids. In my spare time I coach young children in football, and before getting a place last October in the London marathon I hadn't ran for over 20 years.
First things first, I went and brought a proper pair of running shoes, got home and thought i would try them out. I reckon I got no more than 300 metres down the road before I found myself having to walk, I got round my village (2.1 miles to be precise) and had to walk at least 15 times. I got home and told my wife that there's no way I can do this, luckily my wife runs and said that's totally normal and to stick with it as it does get easier.
Good advice, as she was right, I stuck with it and by the end of November I completed my first five mile run in 55 minutes. At this point I got a little bit lucky, my wife had urged me to enter a competition in Mens Running Magazine. The magazine selected me, which in a nutshell meant I would get some help with my training. I am under no illusions, I wasn't chosen for my running ability, but I believe it was because I was a complete novice, over weight, shift worker with a busy life.
The magazine set me a training plan around my shift work, mostly three runs a week, an easy run, threshold session and a long run plus two gym sessions. I got help from Asics who supplied me with some much needed kit and probably the most useful element was the specialized help i received from HIGH5 Sports Nutrition, as this was an area I had absolutely no experience in at all. HIGH5 supplied me with some Energy Gel Aqua and their Recovery Drink.
My marathon training started on January 1, so that morning I weighed myself, (14 stone 5 pounds) and made the decision that I would give it my best shot so at that point gave up alcohol, decided to try and lose half a stone or so and follow my training plan to the letter. During the winter months I entered a few races to gain experience, the Canterbury 10 miler and the Lydd half marathons were highlights. At Canterbury in January I finished in 1 hour 42 minutes and in March at Lydd I ran the half in a time of 2 hours 6 minutes. I could see improvement, and some light, at the end of the tunnel.
I used my long runs to experiment with the HIGH5 products, how many gels should I take? When should I take them? And using the recovery drink certainly aided my recovery.
By the start of April I was running just short of 30 miles per week with my longest run being 18.4 miles, was this the same overweight, old novice runner who couldn't run only a few months beforehand? It's amazing what can be achieved when you put your mind to it.
Race day, the April 24 2016, weighing in at 12 stone 12 pounds, I had done everything possible in my power to be in the best possible shape and by now I couldn't wait to get started. The first part of the race went fantastically well, running the first half in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I felt great. Refuelled at the correct times, and this meant I wasn't dropping under 10 minutes per mile, then around the 16 mile mark the dreaded wall appeared out of nowhere.
I held it together until mile 20, then I had a real fight on my hands to just finish, people tell you the last 6 miles are hard. Well, they are right. Those 6.2 miles were the hardest things I have ever done, but boy was it worth it, the feeling as you cross the finish line will forever be with me.
My journey from novice runner to marathon runner is now complete, there is no such thing as can't, if I can do it then anybody can.